South Australia have escaped Cricket Australia's Big Bash League recruitment investigation with a bloody nose as their former high performance chief Jamie Cox looks for work following his pre-emptive sacking for the Adelaide Strikers' recruitment activities outside the Big Bash League contracting window.
CA found that the SACA had entered into agreements with Brad Hodge, Jonathan Dean and Kieron Pollard before the contracting window opened, concluded that these agreements went beyond the "non-binding discussions" allowed by the competition's guidelines, and fined the association $50,000.
However, no other member of SACA staff, including the coach Darren Berry, was found to have breached the tournament guidelines. Hodge, Dean and Pollard will all be permitted to continue negotiations to take their places in the Strikers' squad during the tournament, and there will be no further restrictions on the club's future activities.
The same cannot be said for Cox, who was removed by the SACA board after the CA integrity unit visited Adelaide last month to interview him and the association's chief executive Keith Bradshaw. His CA penalty turned out to be light by comparison - a suspension from any involvement with the Strikers during the 2014-15 season, without stopping him from returning to the team or the game beyond the end of the summer.
Iain Roy, head of CA's integrity unit, noted that the SACA had co-operated fully with investigators during the process, but said the imposed penalties indicated the seriousness of the matter. "SACA has been found to have breached the BBL Player Contracting and Remuneration Guidelines. We view contraventions of our competition rules seriously and the penalties handed down reflect this," he said.
"Cricket Australia is committed to ensuring the contracting rules for all of CA's competitions are adhered to at all times. We acknowledge SACA's co-operation during the course of the unit's investigation."
Bradshaw said the SACA had commenced a review of the Strikers operations to ensure no future breaches took place. "I was advised on 13 May that SACA was under investigation for possible breaches of the BBL contracting rules and we have fully cooperated since that time," he said. "No other SACA employees have been found to have engaged in conduct breaching the guidelines."
"We are undertaking a thorough and independent review to ensure we have good systems in place going forward to avoid a recurrence. Cricket Australia's findings do not impact our current negotiations with the relevant players and we hope to be able announce the outcomes of those negotiations very soon."
CA's investigation followed the creation of the board's integrity unit in December 2013, and tightening up compliance around BBL recruiting activities was one of its first priorities. South Australia had been fined by CA in 2013 for inappropriate approaches to the Victoria and Australia legspinner James Muirhead.
Paul Marsh, the outgoing chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, had called for CA to open up an amnesty period, where all BBL recruiting activities over the first three seasons of the competition - under a less stringent policing of guidelines - could be disclosed before any penalties were imposed.